At the luxurious Willard Intercontinental hotel in Washington D.C., a stone’s throw from the White House, the Nigerian central bank governor, Godwin Emiefele, addressed foreign investors, and painted a grass to grace story of the Nigerian economy under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The story he told was from 2014 when former President Goodluck Jonathan was in power. Mr Jonathan was replaced by Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 after the retired major-general ousted him in a bitter election.
But Mr Emiefele, who was appointed by Mr Jonathan as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on June 3, 2014 did not blame his former boss for economic turbulence Nigeria experienced in the dying days of his presidency.
Rather, he argued that global forces beyond Nigeria’s control, including tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine and trade tensions with China and elsewhere as well as the plunge of global oil prices from about $115 per barrel in July 2014 to $31 per barrel in January 2016 contributed to Nigeria’s economic woes.
Other global factors, including the oil independence of the United States, which meant less demand for Nigerian oil followed by cheaper oil prices greatly affected the Nigerian economy.
The Nigerian currency crashed from 197 naira to a dollar in August 2015 to as high as 525 naira to a dollar in January 2017 while inflation rose from 9 percent in January 2015 to as high as 18.72 percent in January 2017.
The external reserves had dropped from $31 billion in April 2015 to $23 billion in October 2016.
“As a result of these shocks, the Nigerian economy unfortunately went into recession in the first quarter of 2016,” Emiefele said.
It was time to act by diversifying the economy away from oil, he said.
The Central Bank of Nigeria introduced several fiscal and monetary policies to grow the economy, reduce inflation and boost employment, he said.
Today, Nigerian economy is out of recession, the foreign reserves have increased and inflation has come down.
Nigeria is now ready for business and investments, Emiefele said.
This story will be expanded.